Members of LUPE and ARISE stand in support as Hidalgo County Commissioners Court votes to begin streetlights plan. Photo credit: Hidalgo County Public Affairs.[Tweet “Out of the darkness and into the light: @HidalgoCounty votes to begin streetlights plan #RGV”]
In an history vote last week, Hidalgo County Commisioners voted unanimously to begin a system to bring streetlights to colonias!
This is a huge step and a victory for our members, who have worked for streetlights for over a decade. Now, with this vote, Hidalgo County officials have finally committed to systematically installing streetlights in Hidalgo County colonias.
Almost 11 years have passed since our first major meeting to address the lack of streetlights in colonias. We have accomplished so much since then:
- In 2004, LUPE convened a community meeting in which colonia residents sat across from state legislators asking them to take action.
- In 2005 and 2007, we got legislation passed with the help of then-State Representative Veronica Gonzalez that gave border counties the authority to install streetlights.
- In 2012, county leaders recognized their ability and responsibility to install streetlights and found federal funds to install solar streetlights in 13 colonias.
- In January of this year, the county commissioners and county judge committed to creating a pilot program to test how how they could install streetlights and collect payment for the electricity used by the streetlights.
- In June, with the help of State Representative Armando Martinez, State Senator Juan Hinojosa, and Hidalgo County officials, we won legislation that created a formal process for collecting the payment for the electricity used by the streetlights.
Since then, LUPE and our partners at ARISE have been working with the county to formulate the system on paper. We worked together to make sure the details of the plan truly meet the needs of colonia residents. Now, with this vote, the system was approved and the county can put the streetlights system into practice.
If all goes according to plan, by the beginning of next year, the first round of colonias will come out of the darkness and into the light!
This is not the end of our efforts to bring streetlights to all RGV colonias. In the first round of installations early next year, eight colonias will receive lights. Then, between January 1 through July 1, 2016, colonias will have the opportunity to submit an application to receive streetlights. Each precinct will then approve colonias based on key criteria and then designate funds in the following year's budget to install the lights. We will continue to organize colonias to apply for streetlights, and make sure Hidalgo County commissioners prioritize installing streetlights in the greatest amount of colonias as possible each year.[Tweet “Victory for #RGV! @HidalgoCounty votes to begin streetlights plan in colonias”]
There are around 1,000 colonias in Hidalgo County and more than 80%(1) of them lack streetlights. LUPE will continue organizing until all Hidalgo County neighborhoods enjoy the safety and security provided by public lighting.
Check out coverage of our victory:
- Streetlights in Texas Border Communities to Start in January – Equal Voice News
- Lighting Coming to Poorly Lit Colonias – KRGV
- LUPE pleased about street lights program but not about DACA ruling – RGG
- And check out pictures from our victory thanks to Univision Noticias 48
Help LUPE gain more victories for colonia residents. Make a contribution toward our organizing today.
(1) – While there is no official statistic describing the percentage of colonias that lack streetlights, LUPE and ARISE surveyed 103 Hidalgo County colonias, or about 10% of the total number of unincorporated neighborhoods in the county, and of them, 87% lacked streetlights. County officials on different occasions have stated that from 80% to 85% of Hidalgo County unincorporated subdivisions lack streetlights.